Megan Lapp has been creative her entire life. She experimented with a variety of media until she discovered crochet. Her creations come to life in her head and then she recreates them with yarn and a crochet hook.
How did you find yourself on an artist’s path? Always there? Lightbulb moment? Dragged kicking and screaming? Evolving?
I’ve always loved art, for as long as I can remember. I spent long days, as a child, in my parents’ basement, sculpting clay on a table protected by a waterproof table cloth with a texture I can still sort of feel on my finger tips, watching VHS tapes of the 10th Kingdom and a PBS recording of Into the Woods.
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I wanted to be excellent at drawing, but I didn’t work very hard at it. I was frustrated with my inability to draw the things I could see in my head. It never quite matched what I wanted to create.
Sculpture was always easier. I was always drawn to 3-dimensional mediums. My parents were supportive, but cautious. Because so few creative people can find a way to support themselves doing creative work, I worked hard academically — but I always made time for art.
This eventually lead me to major in Art (and music) at a liberal arts college, but even that did not lead me anywhere near fiber arts. It would be another several years before I would start sewing and quilting, and sculpting with fibers before finding crochet. And when I found crochet I stopped struggling to make what I saw in my head – it was such a relief.
What do you do differently? What is your signature that makes your work stand out as yours?
Several things, I think! I design fantasy creatures, making a special effort to understand how they would look in “real life” and trying to shape them in such a way that seems life-like.
I love to include creative options and choices in my patterns so that you’re not just following my pattern to make one thing, exactly the same way I made it. I prefer for everyone to be able to flex their creativity, and make choices about how their creation will look. This can mean there are multiple head shapes, options for ornamentation, options for positioning (laying down, standing, perched, etc), or different options for different body parts.
Working this way means that I get to go down many roads in service of creating one thing, and it also means people very rarely tire of any one pattern because there are just so many possibilities! I’ve been designing patterns since 2017, and 3 out of 4 of the patterns I published in that first year of designing ALL feature multiple options for people to use so that they can flex their own creativity as they follow my pattern!
What is the most important takeaway you want readers to gain from your books, especially your new title, Crochet Monsters?
You have the power to decide!! Your choices are IMPORTANT. You get to choose what path you take as you make your creations. You get to make choices about color and placement and limbs and horns and tongues and teeth and claws and hair and tails! You get to decide what the personality of your monster is going to be. There is extraordinary power in creating, and it’s in YOUR hands.
Do you plan your work out ahead of time, or do you just dive in and start playing?
I try to plan out what TYPE of work I’m going to do next – whether that’s business work, following-up on messages, emails, social media, photography, photo-editing, designing, crocheting, assembling, sewing, etc.
I rarely plan out exactly what I will be designing next. I like to describe it as there is a door in my brain and behind the door move very large things that glomph and stomp and scratch and paw at the door. I never quite know what’s going to come out when I open it.
Describe your creative space.
“Small” would be the operative word!
My home doesn’t have an office or studio space for me, so I work in the smallest room on our first floor which is just off of our kitchen and our living room. I can see/interact with anyone entering either of those rooms (which is useful when trying to prevent your son from sneaking extra servings of goldfish crackers!).
I work in a chair surrounded by excellent lighting, with my computer suspended right next to my work surface. My yarn is very well organized, but there is also a lot of chaos – which reflects my internal state.
I often have 4 – 8 patterns in process at any one time. I try not to let it spill out into the rest of the house, but it does often in the form of bags of projects that need to be sewn together, or photographed! I suppose it would help if I had doors – I do not have doors. This means that my family can come in to hang out or chat with me at any time — but it also means they’re often met with me interrupting them and counting loudly at them as I finish a row! I do dream about having doors, and maybe a little more space, but for now it’s a good place for me.
Have you found something intended for one media that works well for something else?
A large number of items I use on a daily basis were not meant for the specific work I do!
I use Bonsai wire for wire armatures inside my crochet work. I also use wire & foam curlers for inside the necks of dolls! I use hemostats/forceps to stuff hard to reach places with fiberfill. I use a ring-light to light my work surface. I use bottle caps and felt furniture pads to reinforce the flat bottoms of items. I use snapping hair clips to fasten my yarn cakes so that they do not unravel. I use pet/cat brushes to brush my work and fuzz up the surface of crochet work. I use upholstery needles to sew my work together and corsage pins to hold the pieces together while I sew. I use a food scale for yarn weights/yardage tracking. I even use acrylic paint to paint my crochet work sometimes!
How often do you start a new project? Do you work actively on more than one project at a time?
I start a new design project as often as I allow myself. I’ve found I can comfortably have about 3-5 small crochet designs and 2 large scale projects going at any one time. If there’s more than that, I often feel overwhelmed. I publish a new pattern every 2 weeks or so, and I have larger book projects going on over top of that, so I try to start a new design once every couple of weeks or so.
Which part of the design process is your favorite? Which part is a challenge for you?
My favorite part of the design process is making the new thing for the first time. I can often see it clearly in my head, and unlike with drawing, it just comes together in my hands as I crochet. For a long time, one of the hardest parts was slowing down long enough to write down what I’d done to make the shapes I was crocheting. At this point, I stop to write down every row that I crochet automatically, so that no longer feels burdensome.
The hardest parts for me are editing (going back over work, and checking tirelessly for mistakes, as I am a bit of a perfectionist) and limiting myself. I love to include extra options, but self-editing to only allow so many options to be included in a pattern (so that it doesn’t end up being 1000 pages long) can be very difficult.
What do you do to keep yourself motivated and interested in your work?
I am highly motivated by several things. First and foremost is probably that I just love doing this work. I absolutely love seeing what people make using my patterns, and it makes me endlessly happy to write new ones.
I’m also motivated to do this work to help provide for my family. I’ve had traditional jobs that were a bit soul-sucking but necessary, I’ve been the stay at home parent for my two children, and now I know what it’s like to do work that supports my family and allows me the flexibility to be there for them while aligning with my creative drive. As someone with several autoimmune diseases and unpredictable, chronic health issues, this has been a magical job for me to be able to take care of myself while also doing valuable work.
Also, the door in my head is so rarely quiet that I am not at peace unless I’m letting something out into the world in yarn. That said, I have experienced what it is like for that space in my head to be truly quiet. There was a time period when I tried going on a particular medication to help with my anxiety, and a week or two after starting it – that space in my head all went quiet. There was only silence. I was able to finish a large number of the projects I had started, and do a lot of valuable work, but I was unable to spot my next project – I had lost the thread for the next creation. It was like I was sitting at a piano, rested, and ready to play — with absolutely no music, and no memory of any music. When I realized that the silence coincided with starting this new medication, and was able to transition to something else (that ended up working better for me), the noise came back. I am even more grateful for that now — I used to resent it a little at times when I was feeling overwhelmed with so many ideas and possibilities, but the silence was devastating. I won’t take it for granted again.
How do you know when a piece or project is finished and needs no additional work?
I know that a design is complete when it feels right. I’m not sure I can fully articulate why, in part because my designs have so much variety. A completed whale is very different than a completed robot. But at a certain point it just becomes clear that this is how I saw it in my head, and it is complete.
What traits, if any, do you think that creative people have as compared to people who are not creative?
My husband is extraordinarily supportive of my work, and he is not particularly creative. I’d say the biggest difference between the two of us is imagination. I day dream and think up odd things, and envision odd creatures that would never occur to him to think about. He still really enjoys experiencing it with me, and he keeps me grounded in a way that would be difficult for me to do myself. That said, while it comes easily to some, I think having an active imagination is a skillset and can be practiced and grown by anyone!
Where can people see your work?
And anywhere on FB, Instagram, Tiktok, etc., under “Crafty Intentions”!
Interview posted January 2024
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